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1.1.4 Lincolnshire County Council Safeguarding Children Policy


This is the Lincolnshire County Council’s Safeguarding Policy. Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and 'adults at risk' to protect them from harm, in accordance with its duty under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 and Working Together.

This policy is complementary to the Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board Child Protection Procedures which can be accessed through the following link LSCB Procedures.


All children deserve the opportunity to achieve their full potential. This is set out in the four Strategic Outcomes of the Children and Young People's Plan. The Children and Young People's Plan is the single overarching strategic plan for all services which directly support children and young people in Lincolnshire. It shows how the local authority and all of our relevant partners will work collaboratively and in partnership, to improve Outcomes and Well-being of every child, young person and family in Lincolnshire.

The CYPP Strategic Outcomes are:

  • Children and Young People are; Healthy and Safe;
  • Children and Young People; Develop to their potential in their Early years and are ready for school;
  • Children and Young People; Learn and Achieve;
  • Children and Young People are; Ready for Adult Life.

The Strategic Outcomes have been matched to the Child's journey and to recognise that at various points in a child life they will require additional help and support. In Lincolnshire we believe Early Intervention and Prevention is an effective way to safeguard children and young people and have committed to an Early Help Agenda to enable children and young people to achieve their potential.

Throughout this document a child is defined as anyone who has not reached their 18th birthday. 'Children' therefore means 'children and young people' throughout.


This chapter was updated in August 2018 to reflect current strategic planning, (see reference to Lincolnshire Children and Young People’s Plan and Early Help links); access to Lincolnshire’s complaints and comments and Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 (eg. the definition of Child Sexual Exploitation, (see Section 2.3, Categories of Concern).


  1. Safeguarding Children Policy
  2. Recognising Child Abuse and Neglect
  3. Safeguarding Particularly Vulnerable Children
  4. Safe Staffing
  5. Induction and Training
  6. Safe Environment
  7. Complaints and Whistleblowing
  8. Information Sharing Arrangements

    Appendix 1: Definition of Abuse

    References and Useful Information

1. Safeguarding Children Policy

1.1 Introduction

Safeguarding children is 'everyone's responsibility' (Working Together to Safeguard Children). Everyone who comes into contact with children and families has a role to play. Children are best protected when professionals are clear about what is required of them individually, and how they need to work together.

The Safeguarding Children Policy has been developed to help staff understand their responsibilities, what they need to do, and what they can expect of one another, to safeguard and protect the welfare of children. The policy also demonstrates a commitment to acting promptly whenever a concern is raised about a child at risk.

1.2 Aim of the Policy

The aim of this policy is to provide guidance to LCC staff and professionals of what they should do to safeguard children and keep them safe. The Policy has been written using current legislation, Section 11 (4) of the Children Act 2004 and statutory guidance as detailed in Working Together.

In addition the aim of the Policy is to:

  • Raise awareness that safeguarding children is everyone's responsibility;
  • To assist those working with children, young people and their families to be aware of the signs and symptoms of child abuse and follow the procedures;
  • To raise the awareness of Practitioners' responsibility to follow Social Care procedures;
  • To promote multi-disciplinary and multi-agency-working;
  • To promote a child-centred approach to safeguarding systems.

1.3 Legal Framework

Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 places a statutory duty on key people and organisations to make arrangements to ensure that their functions are discharged with regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The statutory guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children sets out how organisations and individuals should work together to achieve this.

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined in Working Together 2015 (Archived) as:

  • Protecting children from maltreatment;
  • Preventing impairment of children's health and development;
  • Ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care; and
  • Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.

It is important that all staff and volunteers working to safeguard children understand fully their responsibilities and duties as set out in primary legislation and associated regulations and guidance.

This policy outlines those responsibilities and applies equally to all staff employed by LCC who are directly involved in providing care to children, and Adults At Risk.

1.4 Responsibilities of Individuals in Implementing this Policy

All employees of Lincolnshire County Council and elected members are to:

  • Understand and apply this policy and procedure;
  • Identify opportunities and undertake appropriate training to support them in their role;
  • Be able to recognise harm;
  • Know how to report any concerns in a timely and appropriate way.

In addition, senior managers within Lincolnshire County Council are to:

  • Provide commitment and be responsible for communicating to all staff of the authority the importance of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and adults at risk and that it is everybody's responsibility;
  • To take leadership responsibility for the Councils safeguarding arrangements.

The Executive Director of Children's Services is the Designated person with overall responsibility for safeguarding.

Councillor Patricia Bradwell is the Executive Member for Children's Services and Adult Learning and the Councillor Lead for Children in Safeguarding.

Each Service within Lincolnshire Council County has a Senior Liaison Officer (SLO) who will take the lead for Safeguarding within their Service Area. The contact details of all SLO's are available from the LSCB.

The designated Senior Liaison Officer can provide advice and is a point of contact, in Children's Services the SLO is:

  • The Children's Service Manager - Locality (East Lindsey).

Every employee/contractor can access online the Children's Services Policy and Procedure Manual and the Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) Procedures.

Every employee/contractor can have access via the LSCB to e-learning Safeguarding Training (LSCB website).

2. Recognising Child Abuse and Neglect

Whilst children and adults at risk may suffer abuse and neglect, the recognition of these may differ. WTC has provided guidance as outlined below of what constitutes abuse and neglect and the categories of concern, however this is not to be treated as the definitive list, it can be multi-faceted and should be considered holistically.

2.1 Maltreatment

Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse a child or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting, by those known to them or, more rarely by others (e.g. via the internet). They may be abused by an adult or adults, or another child or children.

2.2 Impact of Maltreatment

The maltreatment of children - physically, emotionally, sexually or through neglect can have major long-term effects on all aspects of a child's health, development and well-being. The immediate and longer - term impact can include anxiety, depression, substance misuse, eating disorders and self - destructive behaviours, offending and anti-social behaviour (WTC 2015) (Archived).

2.3 Categories of Concern

There are many ways in which children can be harmed (taken from Working Together to Safeguard Children):

Physical abuse

Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child's emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or 'making fun' of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child's developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyberbullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.

Child Sexual Exploitation

Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.


Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child's basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child's health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:

  • Provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
  • Protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
  • Ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or
  • Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. 

It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child's basic emotional needs.

Please refer to Appendix A: Glossary for further information on the 'definitions of abuse', etc.

2.4 Concerns about a Child's Behaviour

Concerns about a child may come to the attention of staff/volunteers in a number of ways:

  • Through observation of the child. A child's behaviour may indicate that it is likely that he/she is being abused;
  • The child may disclose abuse;
  • Information may be given by parents, other people or agencies;
  • A child may show some signs of physical injury of which there seems to be no satisfactory explanation;
  • Something in the behaviour of one of the workers or young person, or in the way the worker or young person relates to a child, alerts them or makes them feel uncomfortable in some way;
  • Observing one child abuse another.

There may be barriers to children telling, the power of relationships between adults and children should not be underestimated nor should the deliberate and skilled way that abusers target their victims. Children may not tell because they:

  • Are scared because they have been threatened or are being sexually exploited;
  • Believe they will be taken away from home;
  • Believe that services are stigmatising;
  • Think it is what happens to all children;
  • Feel embarrassed;
  • Feel guilty;
  • Don't want to get the abuser into trouble;
  • Have communication or learning difficulties;
  • May not have the vocabulary for what happened;
  • Are afraid they won't be believed;
  • Or believe they have told, maybe by dropping hints but haven't been believed so don't bother to try again.

Child abuse thrives on secrecy and needs to be handled in a sensitive, accepting way. In order to achieve this, adults may have to overcome certain barriers also, as:

  • Sometimes it may be hard to believe what the child is saying;
  • It may be difficult that the suspicion may be about someone that is known;
  • The fear of getting it wrong;
  • The fear of what consequences there may be for 'getting it wrong' for the child, for the family and for themselves;
  • Worry that it may make it worse for the child;
  • Believe that they services are stigmatising;
  • Simply do not want to become involved;
  • Do not have the necessary information on what to do or who to contact.

2.5 Dealing with Concerns

Many concerns about children and young people arise on a day-to-day basis, and in most cases these can be dealt with quickly and easily by discussions between staff and parents/carers where further advice or help may be offered, if needed.

These discussions and actions must be recorded in the relevant recording system, used by the responsible part of the Authority.

Sometimes concerns can be more worrying because it is clear that the child may be affected by what is happening to them. The child may be being harmed or hurt in some way.

2.6 Responding to a concern

Lincolnshire County Council is a lead agency within the Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) and all staff working for the Council must respond to a concern.

It is the role of the Children's Social Care, as part of LCC Children's Services, and/or the Police to investigate allegations or concerns. The role of staff/volunteers in other organisations is to help to identify concerns and pass them on to the relevant agency. All staff and volunteers working in partnership with Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board have a duty to follow LSCB procedures.

If a worker or volunteer has a concern about a child they should:

  • Take appropriate action if the child is in need or urgent attention;
  • Collect as much information as possible about the situation - this may be from the child, parent, carer or other workers and should include date and time of the incident or disclosure, parties who were involved, what was said or done and by whom and any further actions. It may also be helpful to record perception of emotional and physical presentation;
  • Be open about the concern and make it clear that the member of staff/volunteer will have to tell others;
  • Take their concerns to their line manager as soon as possible and within the same working day. The Customer Services Centre (CSC) which is the point of contact for Lincolnshire Children's Services will also be able to offer support and advice on individual circumstances. They can be contacted on 01522 782111. Adult Social Care can be contacted on 01522 782155;
  • After contacting the CSC, Practitioners will be offered the opportunity to have a consultation with an Early Help Advisor ( website) as well the option to make a safeguarding referral. An Early Help Advisor is a Social Worker who is available to all practitioners to provide case consultation in relation to early help that they are providing to vulnerable children in Lincolnshire. The practitioner is to consider completing an Early Help Discussion Form to assist with the consultation. It is important that the practitioner decides first whether there is a safeguarding concern and the LSCB's 'Meeting the Needs of the Children in Lincolnshire' threshold document can help with this decision;
  • If the practitioner believes there is a risk of significant harm then they should make a Safeguarding Referral rather than requesting consultation with an Early Help Advisor;
  • Complete the appropriate organisation form after discussion with the manager to ensure a record of the concern is maintained. The Safeguarding Referral Form and the Early Help Assessment Form (EHA) can be found on the Early Help & Team Around the Child website (see Section 2.7, Referral to Social Care).

It is the responsibility of the manager to consider the information and to decide what action needs to be taken. This should be clearly recorded on the form and if the manager needs help in making a decision, they should speak with a senior manager or with the Customer Services Centre in Children's Social Care. If no further action is considered necessary the reasons why should be documented and the form should be placed on file and recorded by administrative staff. Wherever possible, parents should be made aware of this record.

2.7 Referral to Social Care

Many staff working within Children's Services are aware of how to deal with concerns. Where this is not the case the Customer Services Centre can support you.

  • The EHA or Safeguarding Referral Form should be completed as far as possible; this will ensure that all the information is to hand when making the referral. The worker should not delay if all information is not available. (See Early Help & Team Around the Child, website for relevant documentation);
  • A referral should be made to Children's Services Customer Services Centre by telephoning 01522 782111;
  • The referring professional is to confirm in writing within 24 hours using the Safeguarding Referral Form. (CSC will advise of this). An electronic copy should be stored on the recording system/file;
  • The parents/carers of the child should be involved as far as possible, unless it has been decided that this would put the child at risk of further harm. It should be clear about any decisions made and what will happen next;
  • The manager should support the worker in making decisions and be available to give advice and guidance, as necessary.

2.8 Referral to the Emergency Services (999)

Where there is a risk to the life of a child or a likelihood of serious harm the immediate safety of the child is paramount important and may require contacting the Emergency Services in the first instant as well as referring their concern to the CSC. After a referral to the CSC has been made LCC Social Care Procedures/LSCB Child Protection procedures will be followed.

2.9 Managing Individuals Who Pose a Risk of Harm to Children

The Children Act recognised the identification and investigation of child abuse, together with the protection and support of victims and their families requires Multi-Agency collaboration.

The Multi-Agency Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) provides a national framework for the assessment and management of risks posed by serious and violent offenders and also those who are victims of domestic abuse. Please refer to the Joint Protocol MAPPA and MARAC for further information. This protocol compliments but does not replace existing Adult / Children procedures and protocols.

3. Safeguarding Particularly Vulnerable Children

3.1 Particularly Vulnerable Children

There are some groups of children who may be particularly vulnerable because of a specific concern in relation to safeguarding and some specific issues in relation to promoting their welfare. In addition to the procedures as outlined in Section 2.6 and 2.7 these vulnerable children may require additional support with the specific concern or issue. Staff should follow the local relevant procedure specific to the concern or issue and the relevant procedures are available through the Children's Services Manual and LSCB Procedure Manual.

3.2 Categories of Vulnerable Children

The list is not a comprehensive list of every vulnerable child but highlights some specific groups with a particular concern to their welfare:

  • Children living away from home;
  • Abuse by children and young people;
  • Bullying;
  • Children whose behaviour indicates a lack of parental control;
  • Race and racism;
  • Violent extremism;
  • Domestic violence;
  • Child abuse and information communication technology (ICT);
  • Children with families whose whereabouts are unknown;
  • Children who go missing;
  • Children who go missing from education;
  • Children of families living in temporary accommodation;
  • Migrant children;
  • Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC); and
  • Child victims of crime.

4. Safe Staffing

4.1 Recruitment

There are several aspects to protecting children from unsuitable people. These include safe recruitment practices, procedures for dealing with allegations against staff and guidance about appropriate behaviour. It is the policy of Lincolnshire County Council to ensure safe recruitment and also that allegations against adults working with children are dealt with swiftly and effectively. Please refer to the Lincolnshire County Council Recruitment and Selection Policy and Guidance (Incorporating Safer Recruitment)

4.2 Procedures for dealing with allegations against staff

See also the LSCB Allegations Against Persons who Works/Cares for Children Procedure and the Managing Allegation in Respect of Children placed for Adoption, Children Receiving Adoption Support Services, Adopters Awaiting Placement or Allegations of Historical Abuse Procedure.

All organisations must have in place procedures for dealing with allegations made against any adults. This will show your organisation is taking its safeguarding concerns seriously. Procedures for dealing with allegations against staff should comply with Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board Policies.

If you receive an allegation against a member of staff who works with children that causes concern that they have:

  • Behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child;
  • Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child; or
  • Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates s/he is unsuitable to work with children.

You will need to contact the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO)* for Managing Allegations - Tel: (01522) 554674.

*The Local Authority Designated Officer acts for the LSCB agencies to monitor allegations and ensure that the actions in respect to the allegation are in accordance with the Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board procedures.

4.3 Notifying the Disclosure and Barring Service

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) was created with the merger of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). This new organisation provides a service combining criminal records checking and barring functions.

The barring side of the DBS provides caseworkers who process referrals about individuals or who have harmed or pose a risk of harm to children and/or vulnerable groups. They make decisions about who should be placed on the children’s barred list and/or adults barred list and prevented by law from working with children and vulnerable groups.

The checking service allows employers to access the criminal records history of people working, or seeking to work in certain positions, especially those that involve working with children or adults in specific circumstances.

Legal Duty to Refer

As a local authority there is a Statutory Duty (Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act (2006) to refer any relevant information to the DBS if we dismiss or remove a member of staff/volunteer from working with children and/or adults (in what is legally defined as regulated activity), because they meet the referral criteria. The Council has a duty to refer information to the DBS as both a Regulated Activity Provider and as a Local Authority. Any consideration of referring an individual to the DBS should be discussed and agreed in consultation with the Children's Services Manager Regulated Services and the LSCB.

Please refer to the Policy on the Referral to the DBS for information on the referral criteria.

Please refer to the Disclosure and Barring Service website for further information.

Please also refer to the Corporate Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Policy for further guidance.

Please also refer to the Privacy Policy Disclosure and Barring Service.

5. Induction and Training

5.1 Induction

All staff and volunteers are provided with an induction that includes making them aware of the organisation's procedures for Safeguarding and Promoting the Welfare of Children and Adults at Risk. Please refer to the ‘Lincs2Learn’ Induction e-learning programme. In addition Lincolnshire County Council Children's Services have made a commitment to incorporate 'Safeguarding' within their Induction and Training Courses and to ensure that employees are aware of how to access Children's Services and the LSCB Policy and Procedure Manuals.

5.2 Training for Designated Child Protection representative

Lincolnshire County Council, as Lead Member of Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board, promotes appropriate Safeguarding Training. Details are available through the Lincolnshire County Council SCB website/Professionals. Online e learning Safeguarding Modules are available and specific Safeguarding Training Modules and workshops for those colleagues who have a designated child protection responsibility. Please see the LSCB Training Module Schedule for further information.

Click here to view Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children's Board Training Programme.

6. Safe Environment

All premises and equipment used will be assessed to ensure safety and suitability.

Where appropriate, provision specifically for children will be registered through OFSTED and their guidelines followed. However, all premises and equipment should be in line with Health and Safety requirements.

When transport is organised consideration will be given to the appropriate provision of safety seats or belts for children within the vehicle.

7. Complaints and Whistleblowing

7.1 Complaints Policy

There are two types of complaint:

  • Corporate Complaints which are general complaints that cover all services provided by Lincolnshire County Council except for Social Care;
  • Statutory Complaints that relate to Adult Social Care and Children’s Services and have different procedures to follow, depending on whether they are related to children or adults.

For information on how to make a Corporate Complaint please refer to the Corporate Complaints Policy. You can make a Compliment, Comment or Complaint on the service provided by Lincolnshire County Council, by contacting the Customer Service Centre directly or by completing our online feedback form (Complaints, Compliments, Comments form (CSC) form). Information disclosed on the feedback form will be investigated and retained as a record. The aim is to resolve the complaint as quickly as possible.

For information on making a statutory complaint that relates to the provision of service for Children’s Services, please refer to the Children's Services Complaints Policy. The children's services Complaints Policy covers complaints made under the Children Act 1989 in respect of services to children provided by Lincolnshire County Council. The complaints are treated separately by law and can be made by the children or adults themselves. The complaints can also be made on behalf of the child by a carer, relative or employee.

If the complaint is about a Service regulated by Ofsted you can complain directly to it. For further information on complaints please visit the Ofsted 'How to Complain' website.

7.2 Whistleblowing

The Local Authority maintains a Whistle Blowing Policy which provides staff with an opportunity to report on abusive behaviour. Please click here for the Whistleblowing Policy.

Please see also the Lincolnshire LSCB Professional Resolution and Escalation Protocol and Quality Assurance Process and Escalation of Professional Concerns Process (Disputes Resolution Process).

8. Information Sharing Arrangements

Sharing information amongst professionals is essential to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Please refer to the Information Assurance Policy and the Information Governance e-learning available on the ‘Lincs2Learn’ learning pool.

Appendix 1: Definition of Abuse

Recognising Child Abuse

Recognising child abuse is not easy, and it is not your responsibility to decide whether or not child abuse has taken place or if a child is significantly at risk. You do, however, have a responsibility to act if you have a concern.

The following information is not designed to turn you into an expert but it will help you to be more alert to the signs of possible abuse. Please see also the Lincolnshire SCB Policy and Procedures Manual, Safeguarding Children and Young People at Risk of Sexual Exploitation Policy and Risk Assessment Toolkit.

1. Physical abuse

Most children will collect cuts and bruises in their daily life. These are likely to be in places where there are bony parts of their body, like elbows, knees and shins.

Some children, however, will have bruising which can almost only have been caused non-accidentally. An important indicator of physical abuse is where bruises or injuries are unexplained or the exploration does not fit the injury, or when it appears on parts of the body where accidental injuries are unlikely, e.g. cheeks or thighs. A delay in seeking medical treatment when it is obviously necessary is also a cause for concern.

Bruising may be more or less noticeable on children with different skin tones or from different racial groups and specialist advice may need to be taken.

The physical signs of abuse may include:

  • Unexplained bruising, marks or injuries on any part of the body;
  • Bruising which reflects hand marks or fingers (from slapping or pinching);
  • Cigarette burns;
  • Bite marks;
  • Broken bones;
  • Scolds.

Changes in behaviour which can also indicate physical abuse:

  • Fear of parents being approached for an explanation;
  • Aggressive behaviour or severe temper outbursts;
  • Flinching when approached or touched;
  • Reluctance to get changed, for example wearing long sleeves in hot weather;
  • Depression;
  • Withdrawn behaviour;
  • Running away from home.

2. Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse can be hard to measure, and often children who appear to be well cared for may be emotionally abused by being taunted, put down or belittled. They may receive little or no love, affection or attention from parents or carers. Emotional abuse can also take the form of children not being allowed to mix/play with other children.

The physical signs of emotional abuse may include:

  • A failure to thrive or grow, particularly if the child puts on weight in other circumstances, e.g. hospital or away from parents' care;
  • Sudden speech disorders;
  • Development delay, either in terms of physical or emotional progress.

Changes in behaviour which can also indicate emotional abuse include:

  • Neurotic behaviour, e.g. hair twisting, rocking;
  • Being unable to play;
  • Fear of making mistakes;
  • Self harm;
  • Fear of parents being approached about their behaviour.

3. Sexual Abuse

Adults who use children to meet their own sexual needs abuse boys and girls of all ages, including infants and toddlers.

Usually, in cases of sexual abuse, it is the child's behaviour which may cause you to become concerned, although physical signs can also be present. In all cases, children who talk about sexual abuse do so because they want it to stop. It is important, therefore, that they are listened to and taken seriously.

The physical signs of sexual abuse may include:

  • Pain or itching in the genital/anal areas;
  • Bruising or bleeding near genital/anal areas;
  • Sexually transmitted infections;
  • Vaginal discharge or infection;
  • Stomach pains;
  • Discomfort when walking or sitting down;
  • Pregnancy.

Changes in behaviour which can also indicate sexual abuse include:

  • Sudden or unexplained changes in behaviour, e.g. becoming aggressive or withdrawn;
  • Fear of being left with a specific person or group of people;
  • Having nightmares;
  • Running away from home;
  • Sexual knowledge which is beyond their age or development level;
  • Sexual drawings or language;
  • Bedwetting;
  • Eating problems such as overeating or anorexia;
  • Self-harm or mutilation, sometimes leading to suicide attempts;
  • Saying they have secrets that they can't tell anyone about;
  • Substance or drug abuse;
  • Suddenly having unexplained sources of money;
  • Not allowed to have friends (particularly in adolescence);
  • Acting in a sexually explicit way towards adults.

4. Neglect

Neglect can be a difficult form of abuse to recognise, yet has some of the most lasting and damaging effects on children.

The physical signs of neglect may be:

  • Constant hunger, sometimes stealing food from other children;
  • Constantly dirty or 'smelly';
  • Loss of weight, or being constantly underweight;
  • Inappropriate dress for the conditions.

Changes in behaviour which can also indicate neglect may include:

  • Complaining of being tired all the time;
  • Not requesting medical assistance and/or failing to attend appointments;
  • Having few friends;
  • Mentioning their being left alone or unsupervised.

The above list is not meant to be definitive but as a guide to assist you. It is important to remember that many children and young people will exhibit some of these indicators at some time, and the presence of one or more should not be taken as proof that abuse is occurring.

There may well be other reasons for changes in behaviour, such as death or the birth of a new baby in the family, relationship problems between their parents/carers, etc.

Facts about abuse

  • Most children are abused by adults they know and trust;
  • The reported cases of child abuse are just the tip of the iceberg of the cruelty, exploitation and neglect to which children in our society are subjected;
  • Disabled children are more vulnerable to abuse. They are more dependent on intimate care and sometimes less able to tell anyone or escape from abusive situations;
  • Children very rarely make false accusations that they have been abused and in fact, frequently deny the abuse or take back an accusation after they have made it;
  • Children who talk about the abuse fear the consequences of telling - if things are bad, perhaps they may get worse;
  • Children and young people who are abused can be very good at hiding their unhappiness and distress;
  • Abuse has serious long-term harm effects on children and young people. If untreated, the effects of abuse on children can be devastating and continue into adulthood;
  • Children's Services will only remove children where there is actual, or a risk of, significant harm and if the child is in real danger of further abuse;
  • Child sexual abuse is equally as common among all social classes, professions, cultures and ethnic groups;
  • Child sexual abuse is an abuse of power - it is an abuse of power adults have over children;
  • In most reported incidents of sexual abuse the abuser is someone known to the child;
  • It is not only men who sexually abuse children - women also abuse but the most commonly quoted figure is that around 90% of all child sexual abuse is by men, most of whom are heterosexual;
  • A child is never to blame for sexual abuse;
  • There are rarely any obvious signs that a child has been sexually abused. Child abuse is very hard to 'diagnose', even for professionals;
  • The majority of calls to help lines from children relate to bullying;
  • If unchecked, bullying can be profoundly damaging to the victim in both the short and the longer term, emotionally, physically or both;
  • Bullying can leave children with feelings of worthlessness and self-hatred; of isolation and loneliness;
  • At its worst, bullying can result in a child attempting suicide;
  • Violence between parents (domestic abuse) can have a profoundly diverse effect on children, causing intense anxiety, fear and occasionally physical injury; (Please see the Lincolnshire Domestic Abuse website for further information and how to access support);
  • Recent research has shown that children's development can be adversely affected by serious parental mental illness without appropriate or effective treatment, and by problem alcohol or drug abuse.

References and Useful Information

Useful contact numbers

Local Area Designated Officer (LADO)
T: (01522) 554674
Children's Social Care - Customer Service Centre
T: (01522) 782111
Adult Social Care
T: (01522) 782155
Youth Offending
T: (01522) 554554
Lincolnshire Police - Public Protection Unit (PPU)
T: (01522) 947590 for the Central Referral Unit (CRU) or 999 for emergencies
Lincolnshire Police
T: 0300 111 0300 or 999 in an emergency
LCC Emergency Duty Team
T: (01522) 782333
Reviewing Unit 
T: (01522) 554061